Improvisational Piecing Tutorial

I thought I would be back to my placemat project by now, but got a little carried away with the leftover scraps so I thought I would do a little tutorial on improvisational piecing. When I cut out a 13-inch circle from my lily fabric, I had a big hole and a lopsided frame. After piecing together my large scraps, this still wasn’t quite large enough to fit inside the circle with a seam allowance so I added three more strips to the center of three sides. I like the way this looked, so pressed down a 1/4-inch seam around the circle cut-out (lily fabric).

Auditioning piecework with lily fabric

Auditioning piecework with lily fabric frame

Adding three more pieces to sides and top

Adding three more pieces to sides and top

A note about improv piecing–you can end up with some bulky seams so use a dressmaker’s tip: steam the seams that need flatting, and press a piece of wood on the damp fabric. I placed an old cutting mat underneath for a firmer surface. I don’t have a professional wood piece so I just used a scrap of wood I had.

Pressing block

Pressing block

I use a wood block but you can see what a professional uses, a tailor’s clapper:

http://www.nancysnotions.com/product/tailors+clapper.do

Next, I centered the pieced circle within the frame with 3/4-inch sequin pins and hand appliqued the edges. I didn’t have any dark purple silk thread so I used Superior Bottom Line–works great for applique. I guess you could call this reverse applique without the work (although it took me several tries to get this pinned evenly)!

Pinned and ready for applique

Pinned and ready for applique

Man in the Moon with Lilies

Man in the Moon with Lilies

And finally, your tutorial on improv piecing. Sometimes, I straighten then edges before piecing, but you don’t have to–just sew them together then trim the seam allowance and press.

Stitch two pieces together, trim

Stitch two pieces together, trim, press

Stitch two more pieces together

Stitch two more pieces together

Nest seams, sew together

Nest seams, sew together

Add another unit

Add another unit

And another

And another

Press toward unpieced unit when possible

Press toward unpieced unit when possible

I trimmed this edge–just too much going on for me to see where to sew.

Trim if there is too much noise

Trim if there is too much noise

I didn’t feel like figuring out how to add a piece to this angle so I just folded the edge under and stitched it to in place. This is called texture and just plain laziness on my part. Whatever works, eh?

Fold under angled edge, stitch

Fold under angled edge, stitch

Stitch down, rather than piecing

Stitch down, rather than piecing, trim away excess

Add a triangle to form a corner

Add a triangle to form a corner

Add some more strips to finish

Add some more strips to finish to desired size

Which way is up?

Which way is up?

How about this?

How about this?

Or this?

Or this?

Actually I’m going with the first one. I thought this was too ugly for a potholder so decided to play around with some embellishing. After quilting in the ditch at almost every stinking seam (I’ll tell you where I learned that next time), I decided to play with couching yarn, beading, and more quilting. I don’t always wait till Friday to have Fun.

But wait, there’s more. I also made a new name tag. TIP: If you round the corners, satin stitching the edge is much easier.

Piece a square from scraps

Piece a square from scraps

Matchstick quilting, rounding the corners

Matchstick quilting, rounding the corners

Satin stitch the edges

Satin stitch the edges

My job here is done. Till next time–

About icandyet.com

Hi—I’m Candy P. I live in beautiful Northwest Arkansas and write this blog about quilting. I love the entire process of quilting from design to piecing and appliqué, to free-motion quilting on my Janome. I have been sewing since I was five and started quilting in 1991 with a group in NE Minnesota. We used cardboard templates and scissors and did everything by hand. I have since made traditional quilts, donation quilts and Quilts of Valor; I’ve done paper piecing and foundation quilting but now really enjoy improvisational piecing using scraps from my stash or my hand dyed fabrics and making art quilts. I am also currently trying to finish any and all unfinished projects. I am so far behind I can never die. I have always been a maker, a sewist and needleworker, running the gamut from hand embroidery to macramé, knitting, crocheting, crafts, book binding and mixed media projects. I have taught a lot of handicraft classes including fabric painting, origami, and calligraphy, Dancercise (who remembers that) and my own exercise classes. When I’m not in the garage dyeing fabric or in my studio, I’m at Zumba or walking on local trails and photographing art or whatever catches my eye. I currently belong to Crystal Bridges, AQS, The Quilt Show, NWA Modern Quilt Guild and the Van Go-Go Girls (a local art quilt group). I occasionally make it to the piano and the golf course and enjoy cooking with my husband and generally wreaking some kind of havoc with my daughter. You can read my previous blog at Kandykwilts.blogspot.com but you cannot read my blog as northwind at The Quilt Show, apparently lost forever. I write about my current projects, mistakes and all, and often tell you what products I use (with no compensation). I am open to suggestions about blog posts and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about my projects or posts. Comment or email me. Feedback is most welcome—just be kind.

Posted on August 3, 2016, in tutorial and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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